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Collectors’ Choice – September

Three works from contemporary composer and violinist, Nimrod Borenstein, on the Chandos label, feature on this month’s collectors’ choice CD.

Vladimir Ashkenazy, who has been a supporter of Borenstein’s music for many years, conducts the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra in the Violin Concerto, The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe and If You Will It, It Is No Dream.

Borenstein is a melodic composer who draws attention in his work to his special use of counterpoint, which he says could be described as ‘multimelodic’, suggesting the eternal but ever-changing flow of time, in which events constantly overlap with one another. This can be heard in the latter two works.

For the Violin Concerto, Ashkenazy is joined by the talented Irmina Trynkos. Irmina is U.K. based violionist of Greek-Polish descent, who began her studies at the conservatory in Kiev at the age of 12. On the basis of this recording she is an artist of exceptional talent and we will be watching her career closely.

iClassical rating: 

Listen to the conductor talking about the work:

This music is well worth adding to your collection so why not purchase a copy from Colchester Classics who specialise in supplying classical music, with an emphasis on Chandos releases.

Up and coming guitarist on Naxos

Our Bargain of the Month for September comes from the Naxos label and provides great background listening. It features a potential future star of the classical guitar world, Xianji Liu. In 2016, Xianji Liu became the first Chinese-born winner of the celebrated Francisco Tárrega International Guitar Competition.

Since then his career has developed steadily with appearances around Europe and the United States in addition to the many recitals he has given in China.

On this CD he performs a range of transcriptions and works written specifically for the guitar. Most of them are fairly trivial works, but they make for great easy listening! Liu is able to exhibit various styles in the chosen pieces; at times jazzy, sultry and full of Spanish style as appropriate to the piece being performed. The Scarlatti Harpsichord Sonata (K146), transcribed here for guitar is especially pleasing.

The CD also includes Lennox Berkeley’s Sonatina, Op. 52, No. 1 (1957) which was dedicated to the great Julian Bream. This is a work that beneath its elegance requires the performer to face some very strenuous technical demands – Xianji Liu takes these in his stride!


CD of the Month – September

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in this month’s top choice. They bring us excellent live accounts of the five symphonies of Mendelssohn.

These are not traditional accounts of the Mendelssohn symphonies. Nézet-Séguin takes a fresh look at these works and gets a lean sound from the orchestra. Indeed Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe play the music as the composer intended it to be played, seeking meaning and relevance within the scores.

If you are seeking a complete set of the symphonies then this is unbeatable.


In memory of Albert Roussel

Albert Roussel (1869-1937) was a French composer who spent seven years in the French Navy, before turning to music at the age of 25. He died eighty years ago today so it seems appropriate to highlight some of his key works.

Roussel’s early work was strongly influenced by impressionism, though he eventually developed a personal style. His later compositions are  more formal in design and are typically exhibit a strong rhythmic drive. His most significant works are his vibrant and pictorial ballets Le festin de l’araignée, Bacchus et Ariane, and Aeneas and his four symphonies. Indeed his Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 must rank among the finest French symphonies.

Roussel is unlikely to ever attain the popularity of Debussy or Ravel, as his work lacks sensuous appeal, but much of his work is well worth listening to. This excellent recording of the complete Bacchus et Ariane and his Symphony No. 3 available on the bargain Naxos label provides a good introduction to Roussel’s work. Stéphane Denève and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra give a good account of both pieces. Listen to the recording and you will hear quite a lot of melodic subtlety coming through the thick orchestral palette.